LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Thursday a bill that gives millions of immigrants the right to drive in California.

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KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports Brown, who was joined by immigrant rights advocates, community leaders, law enforcement officials and local lawmakers, signed Assembly Bill 60 at Los Angeles City Hall.

AB 60 grants licenses to anyone who passes written and road tests, regardless of their immigration status. Before 1993, citizenship was not a requirement for holding a license.

“This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally. Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due,” Gov. Brown said.

Immigrant advocates have long lobbied for the change in California so immigrants in the country illegally can drive without fearing being pulled over for a ticket, which could wind up getting them deported.

Opponents believe the bill offers a privilege to people who have already broken the law and amounts to a type of quasi-amnesty.

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KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports critics say it also undermines federal immigration laws by making it practical to live in the United States illegally and could even pose a threat to national security.

“The state of California really doesn’t know who these people are,” said Ira Melman with the Federation for Immigration Reform. “People are coming in with documentation that cannot be substantiated by the state or the U.S. federal government, and they are handing them official documents.”

The new licenses will not be considered valid federal identification and will be marked differently from other licenses.

The licenses are expected to be issued starting Jan. 1, 2015.

California is now the 10th state to allow immigrants to apply for licenses. The District of Columbia also allows for it.

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